DC Lobbyist Pleads Guilty to Failing to File as Foreign Agent

(Reuters) -

A business associate of Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian consultant indicted by U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller, pleaded guilty on Friday to failing to register as a lobbyist for a pro-Kremlin political party in Ukraine.

Samuel Patten, 47, pleaded guilty in a federal court in Washington to violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) by lobbying for the Ukrainian Opposition Bloc between 2014 and 2018 without disclosing the work to the U.S. government.

Patten said he would cooperate with prosecutors.

The charge, which carries a maximum of five years in prison, was brought by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia and the Justice Department’s National Security Division, which started investigating Patten following a referral from Mueller’s team.

Patten is a business partner of Kilimnik, a longtime associate of Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Manafort was found guilty of bank and tax fraud and failing to declare his foreign bank accounts by a federal jury in Virginia last week.

Kilimnik and Manafort were indicted in June in Washington for witness tampering. Manafort is set to go on trial in that case next month on charges that also include money laundering and a FARA violation related to his lobbying work in Ukraine.

Patten appeared before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who will oversee Manafort’s upcoming trial.

Patten was released on his own recognizance but cannot travel outside the D.C. area without notifying the court. Jackson said sentencing would come at a later date.

Patten and Kilimnik set up political advisory firm Begemot Ventures Ltd LLC in February 2015, according to its Washington corporate registration, which is still active.

In court documents, federal prosecutors said Patten’s company received more than $1 million for his work for Opposition Bloc members and for other Ukrainian consulting, starting in 2015, with payments made through Cypriot bank accounts.

One of Patten’s main benefactors was an unnamed Ukrainian oligarch, according to the documents.

Patten violated FARA by contacting members of Congress, the executive branch, and the media without disclosing that work to the Justice Department, according to the documents.

Patten helped Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko get re-elected in “one of the toughest anti-government atmospheres in that country’s history,” according to an archived page from Patten’s website detailing his accomplishments in Ukraine.


Updated Friday, August 31, 2018 at 1:05 pm .